Eric Tingwall found great delight in chucking an XKR-S around a racetrack, but my short time behind the wheel of this uber-Jag was spent in the Detroit suburbs and a brief jaunt on the highways back to Ann Arbor. It was a journey where I could easily forget just how much power lay under my right foot. Under normal driving, the XKR-S is tame and luxurious, like any other modern Jaguar. The suspension may be slightly stiffer than your run-of-the-mill XKR, but it's not something that you notice over most road surfaces. That extra "-S" makes itself known, however, once the go-pedal goes down. Then the 550-hp, supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 sings. The aural delights that come from the tailpipes rival those found in Carnegie Hall in New York and La Scala in Milan. Push the accelerator and you can't help but to let the rocket-like propulsion push you back in the sculpted performance seats and pull your face into a wide smile.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor
Jaguar is building some of the most emotionally appealing cars on the market today. This XKR-S, for instance, has a fantastic exhaust note complete with crackling on downshifts and an appropriate howl during acceleration. Few cars make me want to accelerate just to hear the exhaust sing the way this Jaguar does. In a car for which Jaguar claims a 4.2-second 0-60 time that urge to accelerate can get you into trouble, as the XKR-S will happily catapult you to triple-digit speeds by the time you run up to redline from a reasonable cruising speed.
I particularly enjoyed the driver's seat in the XKR-S. Adjustable bolsters keep drivers of all shapes and sizes snug during aggressive maneuvers but there's enough padding to keep you comfortable on longer trips. I could do without the fake carbon-fiber leather patches, but the seats are spot-on otherwise.
It's not surprising the XKR-S is the ultimate XK. This is the final fling (read: last opportunity to grab cash from customers) for this platform. A new XK is on its way and we saw a preview of that car at the Frankfurt auto show, in the form of the C-X16 concept. The XK replacement needs a much better infotainment system and perfect reliability to really draw new buyers to the brand. Hopefully, Jaguar can pull it off because the current XK is a hoot to drive and checks all the visceral boxes enthusiasts need, it just hasn't proven reliable enough to reel in the more pragmatic enthusiasts who might consider a Porsche.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
The guy ahead of me one my commute home probably spent a lot on the aftermarket exhaust on his old Subaru WRX. It looked menacing. Unfortunately, I couldn't hear it - and neither could anyone else - because I was in the XKR-S. This cat is loud. Accelerating in first gear, it emits a growl that turns into a shriek. Upshift, and you can almost feel the sharp crack from tailpipe. The XKR-S also loves to spin its rear tires. Apply more than quarter throttle pulling away from a stoplight or during a turn, and the rear tires - pretty serious rubber, mind you - might as well be on black ice.
If you're thinking the XKR-S sounds like a musclecar, you have the right idea. This is the car for someone who really wants a Ford Mustang GT500, but has too much money. Of course, the extra $80,000 or so buys you a beautifully assembled cabin that smells like a leather shop. Just don't think you'll ever be able to use the rear seats for, well, people. I'm all of 5 feet five inches and my head smashed against the headliner.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
It only takes one look at the XKR-S to know that this isn't a run-of-the-mill Jaguar XK. With a rear spoiler, special wheels, and black paint that is both rich-looking and menacing, the XKR-S signals that it's a serious enthusiast car. That impression is furthered when you fire it up, as the supercharged, 550-hp engine comes to life, and once underway, all that power is delivered so smoothly you don't realize how quickly you've gotten up to speed. In the meantime, your body is cradled in sport seats with adjustable bolsters, and the whole cabin in swathed in leather - the dash, the door panels, the steering wheel, and even the headliner. There are also trim pieces of carbon fiber and chrome to give it a premium look. Everything about the XKR-S is impeccable, but then again, at $132,000, it ought to be.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
There's an enormous outlay of power from this supercharged V-8. It's instantaneous. It lights up the tires and kicks you in the back. I also love the chassis dynamics. Unlike another car I drove this week, the Volvo S60 R-Design, which with its go-fast add-ons became overly harsh, this Jag is completely civilized. Put the transmission in S for Sport mode, and then if you start shifting manually, you see a row 1 2 3 4 5 6 across the top of the display screen in the center of the instrument pod, plus below it in a very large font is the numeral designating your gear, in a circle. As you shift, you know exactly what gear you're in. This sounds elementary but if you're on a racetrack, you need to be able to glance down and see the readout in a microsecond. If I can be sexist, a guy could buy this car, his wife could drive it to the country club all week, and on Sunday, he could take it to track day.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
The Jaguar XKR-S offers high levels of performance, luxury, and style for a six-figure sum: hardly groundbreaking or unique stuff in this category. Where the XKR-S really separates itself from its competitors, though -- in a way that Jaguar's have done for decades -- is in the unparalleled visceral experience it provides its fortunate driver. And the XKR-S does this better than any other Jaguar I've had the pleasure of driving, thanks to its snarly and seriously potent supercharged V-8. It provides insane levels of thrust and is perfectly complemented by a chassis and brakes that are more than up to the task of wrangling this big cat. I'm not keen on the big rear spoiler because it takes away from XK's svelte profile, but the larger wheels and lowered body look great.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms